Less than fantastick

Theatre Three almost revives a dated, saccharine musical

Waddington does come into his own with one plaintive, beautiful song in the second act. In "Pockets," we hear the purity and sensual nature of his child voice; it is celestial and bursting with longing at the same time. There is nothing tentative or inexact about his voice when he fully controls it, but it is also the nature of things that his singing will continue to change.

The weakest points of the program are the ensemble performances; the acting is loose and the voices are sometimes flat. The problem may be a lack of rehearsal time--or maybe the group never managed to feel cohesive. In any case, the group gropes are the lowest points of the show with the exception of the song "Greed," a haunting, dissonant, and difficult piece in which Lori Shepard displays her own range and control--in tandem with the others. Anytime Allen and Mathews are on stage alone, they evoke a professional performance, whereas the ensemble work seems amateur in contrast.

Neither The Fantasticks nor The Gifts of the Magi are ideal for young children, who will find the plays long and complicated, even downbeat. If you're looking for an age-appropriate show, you might be better sticking with The Best Christmas Pageant Ever or Just in the Nick of Time presented by the Dallas Children's Theater, or of course, one of the many Nutcrackers in town.

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